It’s what I do when things feel awkward, when I’m not fine but I don’t want to talk about it, when I’m embarrassed, when I’m hurt and trying to hide it or when I need a cover to escape.
I make jokes.
They don’t even have to be funny, they just need to be a decent distraction – a smokescreen that holds up long enough for me to change the subject or make a quick exit.
The rules of the game are simple:
1. The joke must not be about me. (Which is why self-deprecation is not ideal in this case.)
2. It must not require much thinking. (It’s a fight-or-flight response, who has time to think?)
3. If the joke doesn’t take, I must laugh at it myself as I move along. (The laughter is a distraction too.)
I must admit that diversionary humour doesn’t always have the desired effect. Sometimes it makes things even more uncomfortable than they already are. But when you’re desperate, you’ll try anything, and I’m desperate (to get away) very often.
How long can I keep this up for though? It gets old and tiring. One can only make so many jokes. Even if I was a full-time comic, people eventually learn to see past the humour. They wait for my laughter to fade and ask the difficult question again. I cringe and wish the ground would open up and swallow them (not me). It would be the best outcome for all the parties involved in these awkward-ass scenarios.
Of course, that never happens. A confrontation is forced and I become an unwilling participant. I have to actually speak about the issue. *gasp*
But hell, what is adulthood if not confronting the hard stuff? It’s tough but no one said this shit would be easy, right? We weren’t promised a smooth ride into our seventies, growing old gracefully on a swing somewhere over the rainbow. That’s a fantasy.
In reality, you don’t get to run away all the time, the jokes don’t always take and people ask questions. That’s life. What are you going to do about it?